By Roxanne Leone

Since today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, education has been on our minds here at WGLI. Especially STEM education, and especially for women in STEM.

You may be surprised that the wage gap between men and women in STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and math) occupations is much smaller than in other occupations. In fact, in STEM fields, for every $1.00 earned by men, women earn $0.92.

That’s great news, but it comes with some bad news: significantly more men are working in STEM fields than women. In fact, depending on the particular field, it can be as low as 12% female.

STEM educators are taking notice. Part of the problem is a misconception about what STEM is. STEM isn’t just about building skyscrapers, it’s actually all around us. Teachers today are educating girls on the immense range of STEM opportunities today, connecting the fields of technology and fashion, for example.

STEM educators also recognize the overwhelming need for STEM mentors — 1 in 3 report that they themselves had a mentor relationship with a teacher while in high school. In addition, 1 in 4 female students report that their greatest challenge in attending college is lack of confidence, motivation or support — all issues that can be addressed by a strong mentor.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, why not take some action today to help educators close the wage gap in STEM occupations. Here are a few ideas on how you can make a difference:

  1. Start at home. If you or a family member has a child in school, have conversations about pursuing and sticking with STEM-related interests. This will help open the doors for educators to mentor them and build self-confidence. Click here for a great resource on how to get started!
  2. Become a mentor — or a mentee. If you work in a STEM field, take a look at your own environment. Are there female role models in your organization who could be a mentor? What can you learn from them? At WGLI, we believe mentorship is a vital part of becoming a leader. Check out our WGLI Core Leadership Program to learn more about how you can benefit from being a mentee — or how you can become a mentor yourself.
  3. Make a STEM donation. Organizations such as Girls Who Code help prepare girls for future employment in STEM fields, but they need your support. Organizations like DonorsChoose even allow you to give to teachers who are launching STEM projects in the classroom.